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Best Kept Secrets in the I.E. !!

Anyone have any nominations for the Inland Empire's best restaurants that you think are hidden gems? It's hard to find good places to eat out here, but I can start the list off with a few of my own recent discoveries!

1. Rosine's - Corona
This is one of my new favorite places to eat! It's a family owned restaurant with a more casual, cafe style sister location in Anaheim Hills. Though the menu is similar at both restaurants, the quality of food at the Corona location is indisputably better. It has an expanded menu, which includes an outstanding pork porterhouse chop that is about the size of my head (16 oz plus a side dish for only $18). I asked my server how they prepared it, and she said they marinate it for 24 hours in a honey and date brine. Well worth the trip by itself! I could go on forever about this place, but onto my next find.

2. PHOOD on Main - Downtown Riverside
This place is the definition of "hidden gem." It is literally "hidden" in the basement of the Mission Galleria Antique Shop across from the Mission Inn. I've been going to this place for years and had NO idea there was such a great little eatery hidden beneath my feet. So far, I have tried a few of their mini sandwiches (kobe philly, veggie sandwich), but what really caught my attention was their "One Time Only" cake (I was told the name of this cake came about when the chef swore she'd make this cake "one time only," but had to continue making it due to the high demand from customers). It was like a small molten chocolate cake in a cup, with a cream cheese layer baked on top. I'm eager to return and try more of their delectable pastries.

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  1. Owen's Bistro, Chino: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/308008

    1. Blackwood American Grille in Corona is quite good and has some great tasting events: www.blackwoodamericangrille.

      I haven't tried Citrus City Grille in Corona, but the menu looks intriguing.

      1. There's also Taps Brewery that's made a second home out there in IE (the first being in Brea). They have great Sunday seafood buffet brunches, at prices a few dollars cheaper than the Brea location; buffet offerings are similar (I've seen crab legs @ the Corona location, but not the Brea spot).

        http://www.tapsbrea.com/corona/

        1. Charlie's Bistro in La Verne and Aruffo's in Claremont are my two favorite Italians out there now.

          1. Hey everyone! These places sound great, I haven't visited them all but I must say of the ones I have been to, Rosine's is by far my favorite. My friends and I love going there for the mouthwatering food (the garlic sauce is to die for), the delicious drinks (yummy pomegranate mojitos!), and nice lounge atmosphere on friday/saturday nights (they have a dj until 2 am). I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who is up for having some great food in a restaurant with a warm, relaxing atmosphere.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gourmetappetite

              There really isn't much out in the I.E. is there? I've actually heard a lo of things about rosines being really good... especially for corona.. can't wait to try it. Anyone else been there?

              Any opinions on Omakase? I went there once for a tasting and it was pretty good... wonder how they are doing in that downtown riverside area. doesnt seem like the best place for a restaurant like that..

            2. www.handelsicecream.com

              $5 hand-packed quarts on Tuesdays and $1 cones on Wednesdays!!! Try the Eggnog Ice Cream, the Coconut Cream Pie ice cream, or the vanilla one with peanut butter swirl and chocolate-covered peanut butter pretzels!

              2 Replies
              1. re: jackattack

                Handel's is AWESOME! They have a delicious lime sherbet, sort of a bright green color, but not too tart and deliciously sweet and refreshing. If you are there, also try their 4 scoop special for $5.00. 4 HUGE scoops in one big bowl.

                1. re: jackattack

                  Handel's has excellent ice cream, and I especially like the turtle sundae. Some of the kids behind the counter are a bit dense, but they are very friendly. It's right off the 10 and a good place to stop coming in from Vegas or the desert, but -- unfortunately -- they have no restroom.

                2. if you like mexican food, there are several options near Arlington & Van Buren, starting with the big Cardenas and Tapatio supermarkets which are across the street from each other. if you haven't been to their food courts, give them a try.

                  1. Handel's Ice Cream...never heard of it. Will have to give that a try!

                    1. Hey EthanSavoy... I have been to Omakase as well and felt the same about it. It was a really cute restaurant that I probably wouldn't have noticed had I not known about it. The food was great, the dessert was my favorite part! I hope they do well.

                      1. Jean's French Restaurant on La Cadena in Colton is a great little French restaurant with traditional French dishes like pates, escargot, steak frites and other tasty treats. And the waitstaff is fantastic.

                        1. Hi! New to the boards, but thought if anyone is out in the Corona area, and craving a really good burger... THE COUNTER opened up a spot at the Dos Lagos Mall- off of the 15 freeway. I know there's a couple in the valley and westside, but finally, a great burger eaterie out in the IE!

                          1. I live in Redlands, and there are 2 great restaurants that we've found. One is a long-time favorite: Joe Greensleeves, located on Orange St. It whips Citrone's butt time and time again. Also, we just went to The Farm on State Street. Great food, all organic, only downside is they don't serve cocktails (beer and wine) and the ambience inside is a little cold. It's needs some cozying up. However, the food is fabulous.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: chasesmama

                              Wow--glad to hear Joe Greensleeves is still around after 20+ years!

                              There was a Thai place on Orange Blvd, near the mall. I think it was called Thai House. Is it still around?

                              Another IE gem is A Dong on Redlands Blvd in the Loma Linda/Redlands area. Excellent Vietnamese food. Just wish they were in San Diego...

                              Ravi's India Cuisine in Colton has excellent Southern Indian food. Still hit it up on the way to and from Palm Springs.

                              1. re: chasesmama

                                +2 for Greensleeves. My wife and her mom go there often. I was able to join them for dinner last night and really enjoyed our meal. The service was attentive but friendly and never intrusive. The specials for the evening included a favorite of mine, whole petrale sole with sauce vert. My wife ordered the halibut and her mom order pasta with cracked black pepper and romano cheese.

                                The salads are ala carte but well worth the extra cost as they are made with the freshest ingredients of the day and the dressings are light, but flavorful. I had the Chef's Special Salad - Romaine lettuce, Boston lettuce, baby mix tossed with avocado, sweet fennel, cucumber, and onion with an extra virgin olive oil, vinaigrette dressing. The wife ordered the Orange salad - mixed green salad tossed with oranges and black olives, made with an orange dressing.

                                My fish was delectable and perfectly done. The waiter de-boned it perfectly tableside with no bones remaining on the serving.

                                Mother in law's pasta was excellent. Fresh pasta, the finest extra virgin olive oil and imported Romano cheese; when she ordered she didn't think the could eat a lot, but actually ate the entire order.

                                They offer a wide variety of food on the menu and has been consistent in their quality and service. I will definitely return when the opportunity is presented.

                                -----
                                Joe Greensleeves Restaurant
                                220 Orange St, Redlands, CA 92374

                              2. Actually, jadeanlin, I heard the Counter closed. Guess they didn't have enough business over there... /=

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: gourmetappetite

                                  Someone needs to notify the corporation that they've closed their Corona outlet, because it's still on the Web site: http://www.thecounterburger.com/corona/

                                  1. re: sbritchky

                                    I just ate there a couple of weeks ago, so I don't *think* it's closed. It doesn't ever seem to have much business, though.

                                2. I second vote for Ravi's in Colton - excellent indian food for 15 + years. Also, for Japanese food, Sachi in Redlands is great - it is on Orange near the 10 in the Von's shopping center. For diner food its Kay's on Baseline in Highland. Right across the street from Kay's is a good Thai place called Orchid.

                                  1. Has I have mentioned before and should put in my profile I just love any good food. My tates aren't too refined that I need to search for perfection so that may limit some of my postings.
                                    We traveled down to IE quite a bit in the last year for my step-son and found a place called Goodfella's in Corona. Its really in an out of the way kind of 'iffy' area of town next to the Best Western Kings Inn (lll find the address). The food is great, large portions especially the breakfasts are great. They are packed on Sundays but apparently the location has killed several predecesor establishments. Its a good family place and the staff is wonderful. We had several meals there while travelling as we stayed at the Inn next door.

                                    1. Good to know about Ravi's and Handel's.

                                      As a recent New York expat, I'm finding good chow hard to find out here. Some gems I've discovered so far are:

                                      1. Mu
                                      www.mumartini.com
                                      An organic Thai place in Redlands. Their Tom Ka Kai is powerful and amazing. The green curry and lettuce cups are excellent.

                                      2. The Grand Oak
                                      www.hsresort.com/thegrandoak
                                      A true hidden gem in Cherry Valley. It was a sweet surprise to find this place - a resort with lavender fields, olive groves and thousand year oak tree. Makes you feel like you're in Tuscany or the south of France. The new chef from Germany is putting some nice touches on the menu (spaetzle, the best apple streusel I've ever had, and lebkuchen). Their cote de beouf is impressive.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: yumyumyogi

                                        any good pho places in San Bernadino or Redlands?

                                        1. re: daantaat

                                          A Dong off the Mt. View exit in Redlands has pho. Did not try it, but their summer rolls were quite good.

                                          1. re: yumyumyogi

                                            I have had their pho and it is not good. Watered down broth. Plus, if you want pho, you go to a place that has "pho" in their name.

                                          2. re: daantaat

                                            You might want to try Pho Ha on 385 E Mill St in San Bernardino. The cross street is Waterman. My Vietnamese friends really enjoy it. Also, don'f forget Mijo's on Hole in Riverside for taco's and other Mexican treats.

                                            1. re: Delphine

                                              thanks for the tip!

                                        2. I live in San Diego, but was taken to a great family owned Cuban place in R.C....Flamingo Palms. I thought it was great.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: csils

                                            Flamingo Palms is great. Love their arroz con pollo and their yuca in garlic sauce!

                                          2. Farm Artisan Foods
                                            2 East State Street
                                            Downtown Redlands, CA
                                            (909) 792-1162

                                            The name fits. Under the direction of Chef Roberto Argentina, a team of culinary artisans seeks to bring the finest in “modern American cuisine” to your palate. Whenever possible, locally sourced products are used. The menu is an eclectic potpourri focusing on small plates such as mushrooms with warm polenta and brie (a must have), seared wild scallops, roasted quail and pork belly. Full entrees include an outstanding 26 oz. Bone-in Rib Eye and an exceptional 18oz. Natural Yucaipa Bone-in Pork Chop. I was very impressed by the 6-course Chef’s Tasting selection, with each course proficiently executed, including the cheese plate and dessert.

                                            Another great thing is that Farm is open 7 days and does not shutter down between lunch and dinner. Sunday, however, is dinner only. What a treat for a lazy Saturday afternoon!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: degustateur

                                              I love the farm-to-table concept and the way the menu reads, but found the execution a big disappointment. Everything was under-seasoned, clumsy and flavorless. I think it's pretty difficult to mess up something as beautiful and simple as a butternut squash, but they managed to do it. And such a restaurant should be able to do a vegetable right seeing that it's all about the ingredient, but they managed to mess that up, too. Wanted to love it, but sadly disappointed.

                                            2. These are not highend foodie destinations at all, more along the lines of dives:
                                              Rosa Maria's on Sierra in San Bernardino or Amapolla on Baseline - Great mexican food
                                              Johnny's Burgers on Madison in Riverside across from In-n-Out - Awesome cheeseburgers
                                              Cowgirl Cafe #2 in Norco on Hamner - real home made from scratch, not homestyle from a mix, country style breakfasts

                                              1. I know the chances are bleak, but anything to the south, namely Murrieta/Temecula? I live and work in the area, and I am always amazed at the dearth of good food amongst the Outbacks, Chili's, Olive Gardens, and my ultimate nemesis in terms of bad, overpriced, faux-gourmet food, PF Chang's (who, I think, throws around the word "fusion" just so that they don't have to bother making anything right).

                                                The only bright spots locally I've found so far:

                                                1) Mariscos El Cuate: a small place in a nondescript minimall on the 79, which has decent Mexican (they hardly have anything without seafood on the menu, to the chagrin of some of my no-seafood friends), which is reflected in their decent fish/shrimp tacos and ceviche.
                                                2) Gyro Kabob Greek Cafe: A little place on Winchester in Murrieta. I love their hummus and chicken kabobs. A little pricey, but I'm willing to pay for quality. Definitely a step up from Daphne's. I'll eat Mr Shish (on Jefferson in Temecula) in a pinch, but you notice the difference.
                                                3) Cuban Cafe Restaurant: This is much further out in Riverside (on Arlington), but I have to mention it because I find their churrasco is to die for.
                                                4) Vallee d'Brume: A bakery off of Margarita in Temecula. Pricey, but they look to be committed to quality. To be honest, I would frequent any establishment that served even marginally-edible chocolate croissants that are my weakness and reason for being. But my friends who do not have this weakness tell me it's good, so I think they're okay.

                                                And now for the requisite begging for recommendations.

                                                This area has an abundance of the following:

                                                1) Vietnamese (Pho Hoa 1 on Los Alamos is probably the most authentic and good)
                                                2) Thai (Bangkok Chef on Jefferson is decent)
                                                3) Painfully mediocre sushi, and usually horrifyingly bad chicken/beef teriyaki or anything else that isn't mediocre sushi (one exception is Sushi Hama--don't confuse this with Hana Sushi--on Madison. Probably the only Japanese restaurant with a Japanese sushi chef, the sushi and other things on the menu are authentic. It's pretty much a take-out place with styrofoam plates, but I'm impressed with the food, especially given the locale).

                                                But for the life of me I can't find good:

                                                1) Pizza: Mama Colletti's on 79 isn't that great--and I'm looking for some of the simpler pizzas like margherita/napolitano/white pizzas. My go-to pizza place on 79 closed down.
                                                2) Barbeque: I know, I have to remember what state this is. I used to live in Atlanta, which makes it worse. Sweet Lumpys in Old Town is overrated.
                                                3) Chinese: Especially Dim Sum. I was raised in LA County, and I really, really, miss this. Mekong River on Margarita isn't bad, but doesn't hit the mark. Also, I miss a place to buy char siu for my udon, which bring me to...
                                                4) Japanese: My favorite place--Sanuki No Sato in Gardena--is an agonizing 75 miles away. Sushi Hama (mentioned above) keeps me going in a pinch, though.
                                                5) Italian: Mazzaro's on Ynez was a disappointment. I guess there are quite a few that I still need to try, but a trip to "try out that Italian place" rarely ends well in this town.
                                                6) Italian Delis: Campini's on Old Town Front is alright, but I found the subs uninspired. I would like a deli selection like, say, Claro's in Upland, but I think that may be asking too much.

                                                Sorry for the ranting at the end, bad food makes me cranky.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: korokke

                                                  I have lived in Murrieta for 18 years and have unfortunately seen many if the great family run restaurants close because of all the chain restaurants that have come into town over the years. In response to your statement...
                                                  BBQ: You have to try Calhouns in Old Town Murrieta on Washington St across from Plow Boys, very small hole in the wall, family run, but absolutely amazing. I promise you won't be disappointed with this place.
                                                  Thai: Thai Kitchen is really good. It off of Ynez and Rancho in the Target shopping center. Super nice and they have the best Yellow Curry.

                                                  Some of my recommendations....
                                                  Pamir Kabob House...Afganistan food, next to the mall. So good! Plus on some Friday and Saturday nights they have belly dancers.
                                                  Mexican: Baja Cactus off Temecula Prkwy.
                                                  Public House in Old Town Temecula. They have an awesome burger. It's huge but so yummy!

                                                  -----
                                                  Public House
                                                  41971 Main St, Temecula, CA 92590

                                                2. Just down from Handel's Ice Cream is another hidden gem, San Biagio's Pizza. Really tasty NY style pizza and family owned and operated. We drive all the way from San Berdoo to eat there once a week.

                                                  1. El Rancho Mexican Retaurant in Colton. Everything is great, especially the menudo. Monaco's Italian Restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga is good. If you want fine dining there is Mario's in Riverside (very expensive). I'll let someone else review it since it has been years since I've been there. Duane's in the Mission in is a great but pricey Chop House. Also the Magic Lamp has been restored in Rancho Cucamonga, although I'll let someone else review that since it was hit and miss and I stopped going there. Hip Kitty Jazz & Fondue Lounge in Claremont is a lot of fun. Also, the Buffalo Inn is fun and historic in Upland on old Route 66. And Sadly, Rosine's in Corona is closed.

                                                    -----
                                                    El Rancho Restaurant
                                                    821 W Valley Blvd, Colton, CA 92324